As I swung the steering wheel in order to changed course, my buddy John changed positions. He had actually been standing on the port side of the console, his right hand on the T-top’s pipework and a Snapple in his left. Now, wordlessly, and without any prompting from me, he ‘d moved to the starboard-side, precisely where he now held on with his left hand and sipped iced tea from his right. A genuine switch-hitter.
He ‘d barely finished the relocation just before a shot of spray came aboard, dappling the port edge of the console. John recognized that as the vessel swung beam-to the wind, the boat would ship spray every few waves, given the boisterous chop where we were actually running.
“John” is Capt. John Raguso, who has more sea miles under his boats compared to most, including yours truly. Keeping your team safe is the first measure of good seamanship, but keeping your crew comfortable is important as well. Although I am a firm believer in the concept which states those who do not want to get soaked occasionally ought to select a different sport than boating, running your watercraft so as to supply as dry a ride as possible is actually just one mark of excellent seamanship.
To start with, be aware of where people choose to be onboard your boat, and if the portable toilet is being used. Keeping them dry may be as simple as asking these people to move. The majority of people aboard for the day really don’t come with Capt. John’s level of self-sufficiency.
Of course, often you need to act to remain drier. Slowing down can help keep you dry in a head wind, provided the waves and current are such that you can operate slow enough in order to sustain headway and control. However, going slow means “breaking” water farther forward on the hull, and can escalate the possibilities of water that’s being getting blown aboard. Thus, other times it pays to go faster or trim out the drives a bit to raise the bow higher. Accomplishing either causes water to break farther aft throughout hull, decreasing the chances of water blowing aboard.
In short, it could prove most beneficial to run so you have achieved, if not a truly dry ride, at the very least a drier ride, and one which does not come at the cost of too much slapping or too much Sea World behavior from your boat.
Trying to keep the vessel level across the beam, and keeping the portable boat toilet empty, guarantees it will throw equal amounts of water to every side. The converse of this is that a vessel will throw a lot more spray on the side that is most immersed. Use this to your advantage by trimming the boat– either with trim tabs, engine/drive trim or even by shifting weight and crew– so it is actually higher on the windward side.
All of this advice is to be taken in measure against the myriad variables you, as skipper, face on any given day on the water. Implement them incrementally until you discover the groove of the moment.